The Brussels Agreement, 1984 was an agreement between the Governments of the United Kingdom and Spain concerning the territorial dispute over Gibraltar. The agreement was criticised by Gibraltar politicians for limiting the participation of Gibraltarians in determining their own future.

Background

The Lisbon Agreement concluded in 1980 did not provide an immediate solution to the problems resulting from the blockade of Gibraltar imposed by Franco in 1969. The border did not reopen as planned and London and Madrid continued to disagree over the interpretation of the agreement. Spain's admittance to NATO and the EU provided the impetus to finally break the deadlock in 1984.

Conclusion of the agreement

The Brussels Agreement was concluded in November 1984 and implemented in February 1985. Spain's application to join the EEC proved to be the key factor, as Britain linked Spain's membership with the opening of the frontier with Gibraltar and threatened to veto the application. The Brussels Agreement clarified and reactivated the earlier Lisbon Agreement, which had been subject to widely differing interpretation had complicated Anglo-Spanish relations and delayed full opening of the border. Under the agreement, the United Kingdom and Spain would hold talks over Gibraltar, with the British prepared to negotiate on sovereignty. The agreement was signed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, and the Spanish Foreign Minister, Fernando Morán López.

The key points of the Brussels agreement were:

  • Provision of equality and reciprocity of rights for Spaniards in Gibraltar and Gibraltarians in Spain.
  • The establishment of the free movement of persons, vehicles and goods between Gibraltar and the neighbouring territory.
  • The establishment of a negotiating process aimed at overcoming all the differences between Spain and the United Kingdom over Gibraltar.

Criticism

The agreement was vocally criticised in Gibraltar as although the Gibraltar Government was invited to participate, it was only as part of the United Kingdom delegation. Another major deficiency from the Gibraltar perspective was that it did not allow for the discussion of differences between Gibraltar and Spain. The agreement was also criticised by Gibraltar politicians as the Gibraltar delegation was expected to form part of:

Impact on Gibraltar politics

In the key 1988 election, the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party called for self-determination, expressed its opposition to the negotiations over the sovereignty and future of Gibraltar between Spain and the United Kingdom, and opposed to any transfer of sovereignty to Spain. It also asked for the withdrawal of the negotiations on the Brussels Declaration and opposed to the Airport agreement. The GSLP got 8 seats and a 58.2% of the popular vote.

See also